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I could not find this an old, desiccated blog ‘o;’ mine,so I’ll reprise it here.

Pigeons are one of our best weeds.  Originally rock doves, they quickly figured out that the vertical faces and crevasses of our built environment were much like their cliff dwelling habitat of the past hundreds of thousands of years.  Plus, the excess garbage we cast off was far easier food than their widespread forage in their natural habitat.

The problem with pigeons is that they, like every animal, poop.  Because they love perching on high points, wires and rocks they poop on our most beloved monuments, hats, and heads.  Since we started building statues and things we cared about, we have been trying to eradicate the pigeon from cities.  The problem with pigeon eradication is, the more you kill , the more food is left for the survivors, and the faster they reproduce.

Pigeons needed a more elegant solution.

The eradication plan that excited me the most was one in Basel, Switzerland.  In the late 80’s, biologist Dr. Haag-Wachernagel set up rookeries in Basel with the best environment for raising pigeon chicks, with plenty of food and temperature control.  It was a pigeon magnet.  Soon pigeons were nesting in these rookeries by the thousands.  They gave the pigeons what they wanted, and the pigeons came.  The only reason you couldn’t come to these rookeries was if you were a failure in pigeon society.

Haag-Wachernagel’s then replaced the eggs in the nests with wooden copies meant to fool the birds into thinking they had full, fertile nests.  Within four years, Basel’s pigeon population fell by 50%.  Not through extermination, but through kindness to the enemy.

There is a lot to this technique.  If I can give my enemy what they want, and serve my goals in so doing, I will win much more quickly than if I just attack my enemy.  Often attacking my enemy gives them a better reason to be my enemy, or makes them thrive.  The cleverer thing to do is to serve my enemy well and myself better.  If I am afflicted by terrorists acting on their religious zeal and career frustration, how can I give them that satisfaction so they quit bothering.  Fighting back just proves their point, and recruits more to their cause.

Image

A put-upon pigeon nesting behind pigeon spikes.

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